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On Southwest, Labor Shortages, and The Righteousness of Hard Work

I was already sleeping poorly, so when the phone rang at 1am this morning, it was no big deal for me. The dogs, however, who had burrowed under the covers with me were quite put out. On the other end of the call was Marianne, calling from her hotel in Portland with some bad news. "My flight just got canceled." With those words, we were officially caught up in the Southwest fiasco that is sweeping our nation. I'm currently typing this from an airport, hoping that she will eventually make her connection here from Chicago. By the time I went to bed last night, we had found a new flight for her on a different airline. The flight was delayed an hour out of Portland, but now she's sitting in O'Hare, and I'm sitting here rage-typing (not really... I've thought all this through). I don't have all the details on why Southwest is struggling so much, it may or may not have anything to do with anti-vaxxers protesting or being laid off. What I know for certain is t
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On Athletes, Anxiety, And What We Are Doing To Our Children

Almost every athlete who has played at any competitive level has experienced what is often called "the yips" (apologies to Ted Lasso). These days, we call the yips a "mental health" issue, and while Simone Biles is the most current and high-profile example, what I have to say isn't really about her. In fairness to Simone, gymnastics is a unique sport. A soccer player or golfer with high levels of anxiety (or other mental health struggles) might play poorly, make a bad pass, or miss a putt. A gymnast could seriously injure himself if he's not in a state of mental clarity. A four-foot putt is very different than a backflip on the balance beam. My question, rather than being about the 2021 Olympic gymnastics competition, is much broader. What has happened over the last five years (or more) to create this environment in which so many world-class athletes are so drastically underperforming? On a wider scale, what is happening to our children? Why is anxiety at an

Be a STONE, not a Brick (Sermon Leftovers from Genesis 11)

Genesis 11:3 says that the people of Babel built with bricks instead of stones. While this is not the main point (or perhaps even an important point), the contrast between bricks and stones is interesting. Bricks are man-made, while stones were made by God. Every one of us has a God-given purpose in life. When we pursue that purpose, we discover life as it was meant to be. When we choose to chase after our own purposes and desires, we eventually discover that they leave us empty and unfulfilled. Bricks are not unique. Every brick looks exactly the same because they are mass-produced. Stones are all unique, no two stones are ever the same. God did not create you so that you could look like everyone else. His desire for you is not that you be "one of the crowd" or that you be a nameless face in the crowd. Don't compromise so that you will fit in. Be the person God created you to be, even if (especially if) that makes you stand out. Bricks are replaceable. If a brick is dama

10 Sermon Leftovers from Genesis 6. No Nephilim Though.

On Sunday, I preached from Genesis 6. Although this passage is famous because of its reference to the NEPHILIM, I am not mentioning them here. They aren't really the point, so I won't really use up the bandwidth. Some Christian beliefs do not make sense to the world. The resurrection is our central truth. Everything that looks good is not good for you. You do not need to take everything you want. Satan's plan is always to counterfeit and corrupt God's good creation. God's people are to live in the world but look different from the world so that they can influence the world for good. God's people are to influence the world, but not to partner with the world. Everyone wants to live in a world where evil is judged justly. God's judgment of evil is also usually the preservation of His plan and protection for His  people. If the focus of your life is the evil of the world, you will either wallow in despair or well up with pride. If the focus of your life is the g

5 Daily Habits to Help You Follow Jesus

Yesterday at The Gathering, I talked about  "Following Jesus."  At the end of our time, I told you that deciding to follow Him is one of the most important decisions you can ever make. This email is a short follow-up from that message. Below are five practical things you can do every day to help you follow Jesus. Just as you have daily habits which sustain your physical life (breathing, eating, moving, etc.), these are spiritual habits which will sustain your relationship with Jesus. Please take a moment and consider whether or not these five simple activities might make a difference in your life this week (and beyond). FIVE DAILY HABITS TO HELP YOU FOLLOW JESUS Get Inspired Give Something Away Connect With Other Christians Make an Eternal impact Celebrate God's Gifts Get Inspired Spending a few minutes reading God's Word is the best possible way to start your day. Whether you take 10 minutes or a full hour, time in God's Word empowers you to kn

Grateful People Have Selective Memories

PHILIPPIANS 1:3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, Paul's time in Philippi wasn't exactly a vacation at the beach or a walk in the park. You can read all the details in Acts 16, but among other things, he had to deal with a heckler, he and his friends got beaten up, and he was even thrown in jail. Yet, in Philippians 1:3, Paul wrote that he was thankful every time he remembered the people who lived in Philippi. Was he thankful for all the bad times? (not that he shouldn't be as God helps us grown in difficult circumstances) Actually, verses 4-5 clue us in as to why he was grateful. PHILIPPIANS 1:4-5 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. Paul was grateful for the good times. He had warm memories of partnering with the Philippians to see the Gospel spread throughout their time. He was thankful for the support they had given as He proclaimed the truth.

My Drawer Runneth Over

I like t-shirts. I especially like shirts with logos of my favorite sports teams. I also have a problem getting rid of old t-shirts. Earlier this week, I put on a shirt that I calculated to be at least 10 years old. As a result of my inability to let go, my shirt drawer is overflowing with Spartan, Tiger, Red Wing, Lions, Liverpool, Warrior, Trojan, and Bruin shirts. Let me be clear. My drawer is not overflowing because of any one shirt. It is overflowing because I have SO MANY shirts. Ephesians 5:20 says, "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" The keywords here are "everything" and "always". Colossians 2:7 is a parallel passage. Here Paul is encouraging a group of Christians to live consistently with their roots in Jesus' example and teaching. This is accomplished, according to Paul, by "overflowing with thankfulness." Saying, "thank you" every so often is nice, but